AUGUSTA, GA. (WJBF)- As the investigation continues into who may have hacked the city’s computer system, experts say it’s important for you to keep your information safe online. 

“It’s very challenging to defend against these types of attacks and it’s very important to have a response plan in place before the attack happens so that you’re better prepared to get all the services restored and get back to normal operations,” Head Professor for the School of Cyber Program at AU Dr. Michael Nowatkowski said.

Cyber-attacks on city computer systems like the one the city of Augusta is dealing with can have far-reaching and long-lasting impacts.  

“Many cities have been attacked within the past few years– several high-profile city attacks have happened. It’s very challenging for cities to prepare and defend for these attacks,” Dr. Nowatkowski said.

Dr. Nowatkowski points out there could be many different reasons behind a cyber-attack.

“They would steal your data that’s sometimes referred to as a breach, or they’re going to take your data. There’s also potential– if they’re able to get onto your system– where it would be something like ransomware, where they would prevent you from using your data.”

But there are ways to avoid becoming a victim.

“As a responder you want to try to find them and their activities as quickly as possible so that they can’t perform these malicious activities or sit in a dormant state, collecting data for a long period of time,” Dr. Nowatkowski said.

And though preventable measures exist, the reason for why hackers attack in the first place might vary.

“It could be that they’re trying to get some sort of profit by the attack– this would be a case where they maybe do a ransomware attack, where the city would have to pay some amount of money to be able to re-access the data. They could be doing it to gather intelligence for a future attack…,” Dr. Nowatkowski said. 

AU provides several degree programs related to cyber security and defense which gives students the chance to learn more on how they can protect themselves against an attack, and if you’re someone who is interested, visit.